Cathy and Todd discuss the distinction between weaponized incompetence and regular incompetence, exploring how gender norms and societal expectations shape these ideas. They engage in real-time reflection on how they navigate these dynamics within their partnership and parenting, and they stress the need for communication and flexibility depending on the situation. This is a good episode to listen to with your partner or friends! Lots of issues to discuss and process.

For the full show notes, visit


Donate to MenLiving

Join Team Zen

Jeremy Kraft from Avid Painting and Remodeling 630-956-1800

Time Stamps

(00:29:15) Join Team Zen

(00:39:25) Cathy “I’m good at this” *

(00:50:44) Seeing vs needing *

(01:03:48) Weaponized incompetence ? through the lens of making the bed *

(00:59:26) Jeremy Kraft from Avid Painting and Remodeling 630-956-1800

3 Ways to Support Us

  1. Check out Zen Parenting Weekend 2024
    1. Video Montage
  2. Join Team Zen
  3. Subscribe to our YouTube Page

Other Ways to Support Us

This week’s sponsor(s):

  • Avid Co DuPage County Area Decorating, Painting, Remodeling by Avid Co includes kitchens, basements, bathrooms, flooring, tiling, fire and flood restoration.
  • MenLiving – A virtual and in-person community of guys connecting deeply and living fully. No requirements, no creeds, no gurus, no judgements
  • Todd Adams Life & Leadership Coaching for Guys


Ask Us Anything

If You’ve Come this Far Podcast



Blog Post

Navigating the Nuances of Weaponized Incompetence and Everyday Partnership Dynamics

In an episode that delves into both the humor and hardship of relational dynamics, we tackle the viral concept of weaponized incompetence, journey through the trials of cohabitation, and touch on the delicate balance of gender roles within partnerships and parenting. This exploration serves not just as a commentary but as a reflection on how couples navigate the often muddy waters of living and growing together.

The Virality of Weaponized Incompetence

Weaponized incompetence, a term trending on platforms like TikTok, essentially highlights how one partner might intentionally underperform in shared responsibilities—be it chores or childcare—thus forcing the other partner to compensate. While the term itself carries a complexity deeper than its surface level implication, it opens up a broader discussion about the dynamics it unveils within relationships. Sometimes, it’s not about strategic avoidance but rather, reveals gaps in our understanding or willingness to engage deeply with the tasks at hand.

The Everyday Dance of Partnership

As we dissect the layers that constitute weaponized incompetence, it becomes evident that the concept acts as a mirror—reflecting a range of everyday interactions and negotiations that shape our relationships. For instance, the seemingly simple act of making a bed together can uncover layers about how we perceive correctness, effort, and the importance of mundane tasks in the grand scheme of our shared lives.

It begs the question: when do these tasks cease to be about mere efficiency and start speaking volumes about our care, consideration, and mutual respect for one another?

Beyond Incompetence: The Emotional Landscape

Diving deeper, the script reflects on moments of inadvertent negligence—a burnt tongue due to inadequately cooled water, the unspoken emotional labors that often go unnoticed yet form the bedrock of our domestic lives. These instances aren’t about incompetence but rather, highlight the constant navigation and renegotiation of roles, expectations, and emotional needs within a partnership.

The Gendered Undertones of Everyday Tasks

Perhaps one of the most poignant aspects explored is the gendered nature of these dynamics. There’s an acknowledgment of the ingrained tendencies, possibly stemming from traditional roles, that influence how tasks are divided, acknowledged, or taken for granted within the household. The discussion moves beyond simple task delegation, touching on themes of visibility, acknowledgment, and the intrinsic desire to be seen and appreciated in our roles—whatever they may be.

The Underlying Message: Communication and Compassion

Through the lens of humor, frustration, and everyday reality, the essence of the conversation boils down to the importance of communication and compassion in navigating partnership dynamics. It’s not about vilifying forgetfulness or moments of laziness but rather, about finding a common ground where both partners feel seen, heard, and valued for their contributions—be they in the form of tasks, emotional support, or simply bearing witness to each other’s growth and struggles.

In Conclusion

As we wade through the complexities of weaponized incompetence and the myriad ways it manifests in our lives, it’s clear that the core of navigating these waters lies in empathy, open dialogue, and a willingness to understand the unspoken. In doing so, we not only challenge the patterns that may hold us back but also open the door to deeper connection and mutual respect within our relationships.



Todd: Here we go. My name’s Todd. This is Cathy. Welcome back to another episode of Zen Parenting Radio. This is podcast number 760 while listen to Zen Parenting Radio because you’ll feel outstanding. And I always remember our motto, which is that the best predictor of a child’s wellbeing is a parent’s self-understanding.

Todd: You’re not very loud in my ears. Is that better? Thank you. Yes. Yes. You’re way low. Thank you. Um, why? I already said I listen to Zen Parenting Radio. So we have a few different ideas for today’s podcast, and I think we’re going to start with the one that came to us most recently, which is weaponized incompetence.

Todd: Incompetence. I’m [00:01:00] excited about this. Um, and I think it might get a little, um, you hate when I use words that sound like foods but a little juicy to me. 

Cathy: Ew. 

Todd: Just think of 

Cathy: orange 

Todd: juice. Isn’t orange juice really good? I just 

Cathy: don’t like those kind of words. I know other people do, I’m telling you, because I’m a yogi, so I’d say the majority of my yoga teachers use that.

Cathy: What is something yoga teachers say that annoy 

Todd: you? Give me an example. Do you see? No, give me another. 

Cathy: Um, let’s see. Uh, what do they say that annoy? Well, I can’t give another word off the top of my head, but what annoys me is when we kind of, when a teacher holds a pose for too long or forgets that they’re not counting or is helping someone else.

Cathy: So everybody’s like stuck in a pose 

Todd: for awhile. Yeah. 

Cathy: I, I, when I was teaching yoga, that was something I was very like, conscious of because I don’t like feeling like I’ve, and when I say I’ve been forgotten about, I don’t mean that. They’re ignoring you. Well, and it’s not that. I don’t feel ignored [00:02:00] personally.

Cathy: It’s that I’m now struggling and opposed and that’s not really part of what we should be doing. I’m not going to be ignored, 

Todd: Dan. 

Cathy: Yeah, so it’s less about my interpersonal needs and more about my physical needs. 

Todd: Um, That’s right. So, but that didn’t answer my question at all, and that’s okay. What’s wrong?

Cathy: Your microphone’s down again. 

Todd: Oh. Yeah, you, because you like get really low, so. Well, it’s because I need to look down because I rate notes as we go. Got it. I got to figure out another way. Well, and maybe it comes across just fine. No, it doesn’t. I’m lower, but I use this software called Levelator. Okay. And it levels our voices.

Todd: It levelators our voices. Before we go to the actual podcast. 

Cathy: Yeah, it’s just kind of like I hear you and then you kind of disappear. So 

Todd: we’re just gonna jump right in. Okay, 

Cathy: I’m ready. 

Todd: Weaponizing competence. Yeah. Can I give you what I googled of what it means? You can. It’s a term used to describe a situation in which one partner intentionally [00:03:00] underperforms in shared responsibilities, such as household chores or parenting, often putting the burden on the other partner to compensate.

Todd: Correct. Would you agree with that definition? 

Cathy: Yeah. Sometimes people go out strategic incompetence. 

Todd: So um, Yes. So the reason this came up is because I’m probably going to play a clip from Weekend Update on Saturday Night Live. And I can do that now or we can. Okay. Um, Maybe just play the beginning of it. I chopped a few pieces.

Todd: Okay, good. Perfect. 

Video Clip: Term weaponized incompetence was trending on TikTok as some women were calling out their male partners for doing simple tasks badly on purpose so they never have to do them again. Here to comment is our resident boyfriend, Michael Longfellow. So I’m going to fast forward to this part.

Video Clip: On weaponized incompetence. Well, I just learned about it because my girlfriend asked me to buy dishwasher soap and I bought dish soap, which [00:04:00] is different, I guess. So my take is I totally get her point, but what I need her to understand is I’m just incompetent and I’m trying really, really hard. And I love you, girl.

Video Clip: So please don’t be mad at me. Do you think she might get upset about you saying any of this on TV? No, she’ll be upset because I was supposed to pick up our cat from daycare yesterday and I’m realizing as I speak I totally forgot. 

Todd: All right, so I’m going to fast forward to one other part I think. Yeah.

Video Clip: Here we go. But here’s the truth. If I lived alone, I’d have one plate, I would never cook, I would order food, and Put the takeout boxes on top of the trash can, and when the boxes touch the ceiling, move back in with my mom. That’s a good life to me. I’m okay living like that. You’re not, Kate. Say your girlfriend’s real name.

Video Clip: Yeah, 

Todd: [00:05:00] oopsie. 

Video Clip: Oopsie. But let’s, let’s turn the tables. 

Todd: All right, I’m going to play that last part maybe later. I think it’s way too much of it. But, um, I think it’s a really interesting topic and I came up with a list of things that you and I can relate to in regards to this topic. But first, I want to give you the floor.

Cathy: I was gonna say, I haven’t said anything yet. Um, I, yeah, I think that I was laughing very hard at that when we watched Saturday Night Live because I, I just, there’s a differentiation though. There is. There’s two parts to it. Weaponized incompetence is literally trying to not be good at something or not learn something so you don’t have to do it anymore.

Cathy: Thus the word weaponized. Like, I remember a story where one of my girlfriends was like, it was when she was just living, before she got married, she was living with her boyfriend and who became her husband. And she was like, you clean the upstairs bathroom, I’ll do this, whatever. And she went up there and he was just basically putting water on Kleenex and like, trying to like, clean the mirror.

Cathy: Or [00:06:00] whatever. And she’s like, forget it. I’ll do it. And that was kind of his intention. Do you know what I mean? Yeah. He was trying to be like, I’m going to do this a certain way. So she would just not ask him to do it again. 

Todd: So what you’re saying is that this man, I don’t even know who you’re talking about, intentionally half assed the job.

Todd: Yeah. So that, so he knew how to do it better. He chose not to. See, 

Cathy: this gets really messy. This is where the conversation is because there are some people, you know, that really Never had to clean, so they don’t know that paper towels works better. This is like, it’s hard for me to even say these things, but they maybe don’t understand that you don’t put water on a mirror or you’re going to have, like, there are people, um, who have not done something before.

Cathy: And then they fail at it, not because they’re trying to weaponize their failure and get out of something, but because they don’t know. And then there are some people, like, let’s, cause let’s, let’s take this off a partnership into work. Someone [00:07:00] may say, Oh, we have to do a PowerPoint. You’re better at PowerPoint.

Cathy: I don’t know how to do PowerPoint. I suck at PowerPoint. You do the PowerPoint. They’re really, it’s a weaponizing competence because they’re like, Maybe pretending or downplaying their ability so someone else will do it. This happens in school all the time. Like my girls will talk about being in group work because group work is so big.

Cathy: And there’s always someone who’s like, well, I don’t know how to do that part. Will you do that part? You know, there’s like a. An inability, they probably can do it, they just don’t want to. I 

Todd: feel like there’s three different camps here. 

Cathy: Okay. 

Todd: Camp number one. I don’t know how. Okay. Don’t know how. Let’s just say that that guy you’re talking about literally never was taught how to properly clean a bathroom.

Todd: Okay. So I’m not saying that that’s true, let’s just say Or that that’s good, but Yeah. Yeah. Number two is, you’re better at this than I am. Sure. And the third is, I simply don’t want to. Right. So those are three, uh, I think similar, but they’re all a little bit different from each other. Yeah. And are, do they [00:08:00] all go under the umbrella of weaponized?

Cathy: No, because weaponized, I think, is when you know. There’s a manipulation happening. There’s a, that’s why it’s also called strategic incompetence because there’s a strategy going on here where I’m going to, I’m going to totally half ass something and then my partner will then take it over. And then there is that middle place you said, so I want to give example of the, the TikTok trend that people were talking about.

Cathy: There were many different ones, but the one that I saw that I was like, oh my gosh, and I’m going to take you back to when the girls were little. is this mom was like, I basically was gifted and I’m putting this in air quotes, 30 minutes of like exercise time. And my husband said, I’m going to watch the baby while you do that, you know, and we’re like, Oh, thank you.

Cathy: And then she gets out, you know, she’s done with whatever she’s doing. She comes out and the baby’s sitting on him and he’s asleep. Okay. And, and that is, [00:09:00] you know, we kind of laugh at it like, oh, dads, but I really had kind of a visceral experience with that because I felt that way a lot too, where there would be where you’re like, well, I’ll be with them and I’d go in there and you’re asleep on the couch.

Cathy: So you are, are the kids in danger? Probably not. Yeah. Are you like an awful person for being tired? No. Um, the problem is is what then falls on me as a mom is all the interaction and the like teaching and making eye contact and doing all that will all fall on me. Cause your time then with the girls is about your needs still.

Cathy: You know what I mean? Yeah. Where I’m like, I’m tired but I’m gonna talk to them and play with them and get things and get their snacks and you’re like, I’m just gonna bail. 

Todd: This is gonna be a little annoying. So first of all, guilty as charged. Not all the time but of course, of course there’s times when I said I’d be in charge and the girls are whatever, playing with their toys and [00:10:00] I’m, because as somebody who can fall asleep in a snap.

Todd: You know, you can have your little safeguards up to make sure they don’t run outside and all that. So, 

Cathy: um, and then can I add one more piece to that? Cause you’ll, when the girls were little, when I would go away, you would also have your mom over. So it’s like, it’s not the same experience because you, you have your mom and I was doing it by myself.

Cathy: So you’re like, and so when we’d have these discussions, is there something inherently wrong with having your mom over? No, but would I sometimes feel like you’re still not doing it, you know? So again, To, to every, to, to your point, this wasn’t all the time, it’s just, it was a discussion we had. 

Todd: Right. And I feel like emotional labor is a huge, um, component of this entire conversation.

Todd: And, and I want to like differentiate it because we’ve done whatever, eight podcasts on emotional labor. And I think this is, I think when you said manipulation, that’s an interesting, uh, word because I think that is, A big part [00:11:00] of, uh, weaponized incompetence. Um, and it’s funny, like, this is going to be the annoying part, so just buckle up for the annoyance.

Todd: Great. In that example that you just gave, if the guy said, you go do your 30 minutes and I’ll keep the kids safe, then, and they were safe, he was sleeping, but if he said, I’m going to be interacting with the kids, then he’s Not saying what he was going to do. So like, it’s almost like the specifics, like, what does it mean to be with the kids?

Todd: And you’re going to be like, Oh, of course it means to interact with them. It’s not go take a nap. So it’s just, you know, that’s the annoying pieces. Like Yeah, I think 

Cathy: that’s semantics, Todd. Like I, I, I hear what you’re saying and, and I, But if, you know, and I started by saying she was gifted 30 minutes of time to work out and and that dad Right, that’s a whole nother conversation and that dad can’t stay awake for 30 minutes But then do you see how the [00:12:00] expectation of women is be engaged?

Cathy: Play with them talk to them look at them because they need that to grow their brain. Sure. This isn’t just Placating or like acting like you love parenting. There is something that happens when you are with kids and you acknowledge what they do. Their brains are growing. Yeah. So you then you, this dad, I won’t put it on you, is then basically saying, I’m not going to do any of that, but I’ll watch them while you’re not here because this is inherently your job.

Cathy: Yeah. And I could see how in that situation, 

Todd: the wife would be like, Dude, WTF. 30 minutes. What are you doing? 

Cathy: Yes, right. 

Todd: Like all you need to do is show up and interact with your children for 30 minutes and you can’t even pull that off? Correct. I totally get it. 

Cathy: And do you see how this is, this problem is, um, it’s, there’s a lot to it because That dad may not know what to do because he’s not engaged enough to know, Hey, it might be snack time.

Cathy: Hey, why don’t we go for a walk? He may not know how to, I mean, I gosh, I hope they know [00:13:00] how to use the stroller and do all these things, but they may have these missing pieces. that make them not know how to engage with the kid and do that’s a there’s there’s a cycle going on there right where it’s just like I’m going to like pacify you for this short period of time but I’m not going to learn the actual rhythm and routine of this kid’s life because that’s kind of the hard thing like.

Cathy: the there’s like there’s so many levels because even now and again you can push back on me too I don’t want to make this all about you but like sometimes I’ll be like can you go to the store and get this thing because I need it and you’ll go to the store and you’ll do it but you won’t get that thing.

Cathy: So then going to the store didn’t help me because I still have to go do it. And you’re like, but I went to the store. I’m like, yeah, but I didn’t get what I needed. So there’s that like, um, place in between. It’s not about that. You’re there’s nothing about Utah that’s incompetent. It’s that there’s not that focus on other people.

Cathy: Go on. 

Todd: I’ll give 

Cathy: you a 

Todd: perfect example. [00:14:00] I got home from my work trip last week. Cameron was on the couch. Yeah. And I got her warm water. Oh yeah. Turns out it was really hot water and she burned herself. Yeah. Which we can now say is funny because, oh, what an idiot dad is, whatever. But in the moment, It was really not a good thing.

Todd: My kid was sick and she burned her mouth and her chest because she reacted so Yeah, it scared her so the 

Cathy: water 

Todd: spilled. Meanwhile, you had been spending the last three days while I’ve been gone to nurture her and be soft and gentle and I didn’t test the water and so like that’s an example of I did not meet the expectations of what was needed in that moment.

Todd: And that’s a little bit more serious than me missing something on the grocery list. Right. But that’s one example that I will call myself out on is, yeah, just get your kid water where she won’t burn her mouth. And I was like, well, she’ll sip it. And if it’s too hot, she’ll let me know. And instead she didn’t [00:15:00] and she drank it and she burned her mouth.

Todd: That wouldn’t have happened under your watch. No. You would have made sure. That it was not too hot. Yes. So, anyways. 

Cathy: And, and that is the, there is. Why? Okay, so let’s be gender specific here. You know, you and I in a heteronormative relationship, um, and, and even in a same sex couple relationship, there’s often one person who’s more of a nurturer.

Cathy: There are balanced relationships out there regardless of gender, but sometimes there’s just somebody who steps up as more of the nurturer. And often in a relationship like ours, it’s the woman. My, we’ll talk about Cameron. She was so sick. And so you’re gone and Skyler’s still home. Like she still has her needs and stuff.

Cathy: And my focus for four days or five days becomes her where, and she’s really good. We’re going to talk about this later, maybe two, but she’s really good about asking for what she needs. Cameron doesn’t have a hard time saying, can I get this? Can I, she doesn’t, she’s not like, Oh, sorry. She’s just like, here’s what I need.

Cathy: Yeah. It’s, she’s a [00:16:00] good teacher for me in that way. So I’m pretty busy. Right. And, and I cancel everything. Like, I, every meeting I had, every conversation I had, my own writing time, um, I cancelled everything. Just like I did when they were little. And that, and I wouldn’t have, cancelling your trip wasn’t on the agenda, so I’m not pulling that in.

Cathy: But there’s a lot of like, all my focus is gonna be this person. 

Todd: Stop what you’re doing. 

Cathy: Yeah, in every way. And then, the thing about the water, it wasn’t, she was fine, it wasn’t like she was severely burned. It’s that you’re in such a hurry, or, and maybe you give me the language, that because what you said when you first did it is, well I thought you’d put ice cubes in it.

Cathy: You know, like there’s this sense of you take care of you. Well, what I did was I 

Todd: put ice cubes in it to cool it down because I did test it. It was too hot. So I put some ice cubes in it thinking that that would have been enough to cool it up. Well, it turns out I didn’t put enough in. 

Cathy: Yeah, it was still so hot.

Cathy: Yeah. And so like, we don’t even need to parse that out so much. But the, the thing why I was frustrated in the moment is stop, [00:17:00] take a second. This person’s sick, cater to their needs and not your busyness. And you may’ve been like, well, I wasn’t busy. I just didn’t think. And then that’s what we call a mistake.

Todd: Yeah. Well, that’s what I was going to say is, um, I’m sure that there’s plenty of weaponizing competence that I have done. Okay. And, and. Yeah, we’ll talk about that. But in that case, there was nothing manipulative about my thing. I 

Cathy: screwed up. It was just a mistake. And it was an accident. That’s, that’s what, that probably, on accident, an accident.

Todd: I did it on accident. I did it on accident. Can I give you an example of where I think I do, um, do some weaponizing competence? Sure. Gift wrapping. 

Cathy: Yeah. 

Todd: I don’t know because 

Cathy: the word, you know, what’s my struggle with especially with you because we could talk about incompetence and gender norms and inequity all day long.

Cathy: But weaponized is such a 

Todd: strong word. Yeah, it’s a pretty word. It’s pretty, it’s pretty strong. 

Cathy: Yeah. And so, I know people who do that, [00:18:00] but I don’t feel like you’re ever like, hmm, how am I going to get out of this? 

Todd: But, but you’ve been wrapping gifts for our whole marriage. True. Yes. I can do it. When you look at a box that I wrap, you can tell it’s, I did it and Kathy didn’t.

Todd: By the way, there’s still two presents that I wrapped in the back of the car. Oh, that’s, yeah, that’s for Frank and Arden. And I was gonna drop him off this week, but you took the other car. I didn’t know you’re taking Oh, dang. Sorry about that. It’s okay. So can I wrap gifts? Yes. Am I good at it? No. Can I learn to be better at it?

Todd: Of course. Have I done that? No. So when I have a gift like Frank and Arden, I said, will you do me a favor and wrap these? You’re like, of course I will. But I feel like I can watch a YouTube for two minutes and figure out how to be better at wrapping gifts. I just choose not to want to be good at it. So instead, it’s just easy for me to hand that off to you.

Cathy: Yeah. And this is why it gets really messy because there’s a lot of things that I don’t want to learn either. Like, I’m like, [00:19:00] can you go, I’m trying to think of something that you fix that, like, you’ll do more of like, We get a new couch or we get a new table and you put it together and there’s like you watch a show and you make it kind of a thing and, and I have helped.

Cathy: I’ve, and I’ve built my own bookshelves. I actually did the upstairs, um, our bedroom. I did the desk. It’s not that I can’t do it, but it usually I like doing that stuff. Yes, it falls on you. So, and this is where We have to have some nuance in this conversation. So for all of you couples listening, never use always and never.

Cathy: Okay. Um, meaning that don’t use those words because there, things are not absolute. We don’t need to use absolute terms. And sometimes there are things that we just are inherently better at that we can kind of have a flow, right? And then there’s some things I think where I feel like, um, that I have increased your incompetence is like, I, [00:20:00] it just, this just happened.

Cathy: I came downstairs and Todd’s in the podcast office more than I am. I’m here for podcasts, but I tend to not work in here. And he does a lot of his clients in here and everything. on Zoom. And it’s a mess in here. And if you look at the rest of our house, it’s really clean because I’m in charge of it. And I’m in charge, you know, I clean once a week.

Cathy: I put things away. I do people, actually, everyone does, does their own laundry. I do your laundry occasionally, but you also do your own. Well, we do each other. We do each other. It’s like, you’ll just dump it in for us. And yeah, so I don’t have a laundry issue at all. And then, but then I come down to places where Todd is and he, and, and this is again, where it gets messy.

Cathy: I want to talk through this with you. You’ll say it doesn’t bother you, so you don’t care about it. But the problem is I’m in here too, and it’s not about pristine. It’s not about, it needs to be like, I don’t mind coming down here and vacuuming. I do that in my own office, which is connected to our podcast office.[00:21:00] 

Cathy: It’s that there’s like this. It’s not weaponized incompetence, but you’re like that, I’m not going to do that. I’m never going to clean something. Never too strong. You actually built the closet in the, in the basement. And that was huge because that was a organizational task that neither of us wanted to do.

Cathy: And you just took a day once. So there is no always and never here, but there are spaces that we live in that I, I, that I sometimes wish like, you know, your shoes in our bedroom. Mhm. These are not life ending things, you guys. I, when I’m going to bed at night, I don’t care. Yeah. But sometimes I wish there was like a sense of, Ooh, Kathy trips over these all the time.

Cathy: Or, Oh, Kathy’s in this office too. Because when I’m in the house, I’m thinking to myself, Will the girls find their shoes? I want to hang up Todd’s coat. I should clean the floor because Cameron was home and it was dirty and I, And, you know, when I say it was dirty, I mean she was sick, so I want to make sure everything’s clean.

Cathy: It’s not just about me. I’m not, anybody who’s lived with me will [00:22:00] tell you. I’m not a very anal retentive person when it comes to cleanliness, but it’s about a, a home. Does that 

Todd: make sense to you? For sure. And what’s messy about the, this podcast studio area is I do spend more time in here. It’s not my space.

Todd: It’s our space, but I spend more time in it than you do, but it’s an important space. We do a lot of important things in this room, like record this podcast. Um, And you know, today you’re like, God, this is really messy. And it’s not the first time you’ve said that, but we’ve been coming down here for the last four months and you haven’t said anything.

Todd: And now you’re like, this is getting annoying because it’s getting worse, right? 

Cathy: Right. Well, and I think that what we’re talking about here is it’s, do I have to ask you to do things? Am I your mom? Depends on what it is. Well, and that’s the thing is like the wish, I think that I’m being gender specific, but that women often have is why, why Can you think about other people and clean it up?

Cathy: Exactly. Rather, because I think where you’re going is, this is the [00:23:00] first time you’ve really brought it up in a long time. So really, you’re waiting for me to ask you to clean up a space. 

Todd: Right. And the reason I am waiting is because, um, you haven’t said much lately about it and I spend more of my time in it and I’m not thinking about you.

Cathy: Correct. And this, this is the big picture. Like, I think I have done this in our marriage. I’m taking ownership. I have been a very, not very, I have been there. I have made some gender norms really solid in our family. Yeah. And that’s part because it’s not all my fault. I’m not, but there are things that I don’t think you think about at all that if you woke up one day and you were like, You know what?

Cathy: The floor is sticky. I’m gonna mop it. And, but instead, we’ve created this system where you don’t think about the house at all. And that’s my, and I know at night sometimes you put away dishes. Like, there’s no always and never here. [00:24:00] It’s just a, I’ve created something. You do the deep cleaning of the house.

Cathy: Right. And that’s fine. Like, as I’ve told you, sometimes I love it. I put on a podcast. 

Todd: I think it’s really weird, but go ahead. 

Cathy: I know. It’s, it takes the place of me having to go to the gym or go for a walk because I’m up and down the stairs. It takes me about two and a half hours and I feel like it’s multitasking.

Cathy: Like it’s, it’s a literal, I am cleaning the house, I am moving and I’m listening to a podcast. Like, what’s better? At the same time, I don’t, I think it hurts you for me to not have any expectation. Of, when I say it hurts you, what I mean is it then drives you to wake up, go work out, get on your computer, go get food, like you then don’t have any family, you don’t have any home, like this is my thing.

Cathy: But I also don’t want to like have chores for us, like that, it, it, it’s so messy. Well, 

Todd: I think it’s one thing that you and I have not done, which is, which would probably, [00:25:00] I don’t, I don’t want to do this, but we have a division of responsibility. We do. 

Cathy: We do. Yes. You 

Todd: know, when the girls were doing their oral care, I was in charge of going to the dentist and all that other stuff, right?

Cathy: Yeah. You took over the dentist probably 10 years ago. 

Todd: Yeah. Which was really great. You know, and it’s easy for me to name these things cause there’s not that many on the list. Um, I’m in charge of the cars, maintenance of the cars, service of the cars. Yes, you are. Absolutely. We’ve never written that down.

Todd: We’re not like, okay, when Todd and Kathy get married, Todd’s going to be in charge of this and this, this, right. Um, 

Cathy: you’re in charge of, well, right now we’re doing the backyard together, but a lot of times you’ve been in charge of the garage or which kind of goes along with the, um, cars, bill 

Todd: paying and finance and all that.

Todd: So like the reason I’m naming these off is not like pat myself on the back, but if you had. To make your list, like, where do I begin? Because there’s a bazillion things. And I would say, and, and this may move our discussion in a little bit different way, but I think that’s okay. Another [00:26:00] thing is, um, your emotional availability for our daughters, which I think ranks number one amongst all the things that you do.

Todd: Like, if you’re going to do this or clean the house, like, please be there for our daughters in a way that I sometimes struggle with, which is holding space for them. The example we gave two weeks ago is when our one daughter missed her bus, missed the bus, and she melted down because she missed the bus.

Todd: And if, If that kid would have called me, I’d be like, well, next bus comes in two hours, right? So you’re fine. Yeah. Whereas you really connected with her in a really deep, emotional way, which is wonderful. Um, so that for me is one of your best gifts to this family and, um, and I do not, I try my best to acknowledge that probably more than I acknowledge, Oh, I’m so glad my feet aren’t sticking to the floor because.

Todd: Because that’s less important to me, but you being a safe place for our girls to land when they’re having a tough [00:27:00] day is, I think, one of your best gifts. And then add a hundred more things that you do for this family. 

Cathy: Well, and, and that’s like, I was actually talking to Jaycee about this because we were having her, she’s a gender studies major.

Cathy: So that’s, you know, we talk about it all the time. And it’s, it’s. In a lot of this, like you said, we’ve been married 22 years, so we have some norms that we don’t need to, like, pick them all apart because we’ve come to some agreement on things over time, that not everything is, like, a lack of looking at it.

Cathy: Sometimes we’ve looked at it plenty, and we’re like, we’re good with these things that are happening, regardless if they’re gender specific or not. When it’s something like, again, Cameron was really sick last week, and then she was sick again this weekend, and so I had to go be with her at school. And, and you were very, um, Last week you were gone, but when it was time to go be with her, you were very like, I’ll go, I’ll go, I’ll go.

Cathy: And I knew you would. Like, it wasn’t a question of, does Todd have the [00:28:00] ability? He was, he’s willing to drive there. I just knew that there were things, it was kind of, we didn’t know how serious it was, right? And I just knew that’s where I, I’m good at that. And not that Todd’s not good at it, but in a crisis with their health and stuff, I’m very, you know, interesting because I deal with anxiety and all these things, but I’m very calm.

Cathy: Um, very like I can totally get momentary with it. I can be there. I can take care of them. I don’t, I’m not scared in the moment. I’m very there. I’m scared after, you know what I mean? Like when I talk about it or if I worry about it, which by the way, it’s so funny. I realized, you know, The things I worry about 90 percent of the time don’t happen, and the things that do happen, I’m so present for.

Cathy: That we get through it. So isn’t that funny? Like how the things we worry about just don’t happen. False evidence appearing real. Totally. But anyway, so I just kind of feel like, um, what [00:29:00] I asked of Todd though, which this kind of gets into our other conversation. Yeah, this 

Todd: is good. 

Cathy: So last week, He, I’m going to share all these pieces so you can kind of speak to your mindset because I think it’ll help, um, men and dads.

Cathy: Todd was gone. I was taking care of Cameron and, you know, everything was about her or Skylar, whatever, kind of old school. Like when Todd used to travel and I was home with the girls by myself. Right. And, um, cause now when he travels, they’re older, so it’s not that big of a deal, but it just was this time.

Todd: Typically less of a burden because of their age. 

Cathy: Yeah. But now because she was sick and everything, it was an issue. Yeah. And Todd got home on Thursday, Wednesday? Can’t remember. Um, Wednesday night. And, and you know, he’s reacclimating, all this kind of stuff. And he, I think, just said to me in passing, cause we, he’s like, let’s go out on a date Saturday night, which is lovely.

Cathy: Like, again, really lovely. You’re like, let’s go on a date. I’m like, sure. And he’s like, I asked my buddy about where a country bar was, um, because I thought maybe that would be [00:30:00] fun. And, and, and people listening may be like, Oh my God. But I was thinking to myself. Oh my God, that’s the last thing I’m thinking about right now.

Cathy: A, it’s so nice you’re thinking of a date, but I’m exhausted. I’ve been like doing this whole thing. I’m worried about my kid. I don’t even know if she’ll be going back to school yet. I have not thought about that at all. And I feel like that’s you wanting to do something and not watching what I’m doing.

Cathy: And I kept thinking about it for days. Like I was like, am I annoyed at him for Asking me out on a date. Like I was trying to figure it out. And then what I eventually said to him is I said, right now, instead of you thinking about, Going back to normal and you and I having a date and it being like it is before, can you treat me right now the way that we always talk about new dads should treat moms, which is, can you see that I’m, I’m not sleeping.

Cathy: I probably got three hours of sleep at night cause she was up a ton and I was just kind of getting her stuff and taking care. Can you, because I’m taking care of her, [00:31:00] can you take care of me? And When I say take care of me, sometimes when people hear that, they’re, I don’t mean go like rub my feet or do it.

Cathy: You could do that, but it’s less about, it’s just more about asking how I’m doing and, and maybe being like, you know, why don’t you take a nap real quick? So then you can, you’re not, you’re focusing on me because I’m focusing on her rather than trying to get in there and be like, let me focus on her. Let me do this.

Cathy: Let me do this because that, then I’m worried about you. And then everything I have to say no to, you get sad, and then I’m taking care of Cameron, not taking care of myself, and taking care of your feelings. And it’s exhausting. And can you just take your energy and think about me, like, just for a few days?

Cathy: Cause, I mean, she’s obviously, you know, better today already. Just for a few days, focus on my, my well being. Which may mean, Just leaving me alone and letting me sleep. You don’t even have to [00:32:00] do things. 

Todd: You were asking me to tune in. Tune in to me. Which is rare because I’m usually tuning in to myself.

Todd: Worried about myself and my day and my schedule. And we had a kid who was struggling. So a few things. One is, yes, I offered to go to Iowa City to nurture our daughter back to health. I had a really strong suspicion you were not going to be on board with that. Even though I was more than happy to do it. I also think Cameron probably would prefer you.

Todd: Mhm. Because of his, if I’m Cameron, like historically, I’m more problem solving, and in that moment, she doesn’t need problem solving, she needs like, I don’t know what it is, it’s like deep nurturing. 

Cathy: Yeah, just being there. 

Todd: Just being there. And I think you would have struggled with not being there. Being with our kid who ended up having to go to the ER.

Todd: Like if I, I, I was rattled when you went to the ER, I think if the tables would have been turned, I would have been, I went to the ER, you would have been rattled times 10. Yeah. 

Cathy: Because I would have been like, I need to be there. 

Todd: Right. Right. So, so that’s kind of what we decided. My, and then [00:33:00] the other piece, and I don’t know if you want to get into it, but I’ll say it anyways.

Todd: Sure. You’re, you were out of gas, correct. You were hundred percent on fumes. Mm-Hmm. , which meant that you had less space to be, um, the way that you typically are. Correct. Which is loving, engaging, non-reactive and all that. And we were getting, we were having an argument about keeping, uh, ice in the cooler Yes.

Todd: And all that. I forgot 

Cathy: about that. Yeah, yeah, yeah. 

Todd: So, without burdening you with the listeners, with the. Stupid story. We’re trying to figure out, because our daughter was so sick, she would wake up and she’s in her dorm room and we need to make sure that she can chew ice to settle her throat down, but we’re not going to be with her.

Cathy: And she, we don’t want her to walk across campus to go get ice. Can she just have it 

Todd: first thing in the morning? So we tried to figure out the best way and, you know, can you put a cooler in a cooler? Does that keep the ice colder? Um, and you basically said, And we kind of were both reactive towards one another in regards to the discussion about the ice.

Cathy: Right. So I’m feeling again, like you said, [00:34:00] because I’m running low, but again, I probably in three days have had about a total of 12 hours of sleep, like three hours a night. I’m running low and I’m trying, she really wants to go back to school, even though I know she’s not well. And so I’m trying to figure out all these pieces for her.

Cathy: What I was explaining to Todd is when someone is not struggling like that, they need a story. That everyone’s behind them, supporting them, and that even if these things don’t work out perfectly, we’re going to try. You know what I mean? Like, there is like a story, instead of a story of, well, how’s this going to work?

Cathy: Or are you sure? Which is just depleting. She needed a Mom and dad are showing up in this certain way, right? I don’t know if that’s going to make sense to people, but I understand it when I’m working with people. I know what people need in that moment. And one of them was, I need ice in my dorm room. Okay, so I was doing a million other things.

Cathy: And so I said, Todd, can you be in charge of getting her a cooler? And he’s like, well, we have a cooler. And it’s one of those huge coolers. I’m like, [00:35:00] think about her dorm room. That’s way too big for her dorm room. And he’s like, well, I don’t think anything else will work. And I’m like, well, what about dry ice?

Cathy: What about like, I’m trying to come up with all these solutions and Todd keeps telling me why it won’t work. And I’m, I’m like, okay, forget it. So I went to my computer and I’m going to do it myself. And then you come in and I think I said, why don’t we just. Do this or this or this or you went to, I said, can you just go to Walmart and look like, just like, I’m not trying to be practical here.

Cathy: I know the ice might melt, but I think I even said to you, think about like, think about this as like the egg experiment when we had to drop an egg off the, you know, in physics, I think it was really creative, creative. You know, because you had to drop the egg off the, the, not the ceiling, what am I, the roof.

Cathy: And some people’s eggs would crack and some people’s wouldn’t depending on what they did. So I’m saying to you, can you get creative about how to keep ice just for two or three days, you know, frozen, you know, because usually you use ice to keep things frozen. How do you keep [00:36:00] ice frozen? Like we were, I was trying to be kind of playful about it.

Cathy: But Todd is very practical. So he’s like, that won’t work. That won’t work. And I was like, will you just tell me a story that it will? Because I just need to know that when I’m sending her off, I did my due diligence. So the good thing is that he went to Walmart, he got the cooler. And I think we kind of figured it out together.

Cathy: Yeah. 

Todd: Um, but the most important part of the story is your, I think the next morning you’re like, just listen. I, I don’t have much bandwidth, so can you just give me some grace? 

Cathy: Yes, 

Todd: because 

Cathy: I was being sharp. 

Todd: I was like, Todd, can you do this? And I get defensive when you get sharp. Correct. And you basically asked me, would it be okay if you just let me be sharp for a few days?

Todd: Because I’m out of, energy. Yes. And I think I did a decent job. Now, most couples wouldn’t have a person with the self awareness say, listen, I’m going to be really sharp over the next few days. So just give me a little grace. Like that, that requires a lot of self awareness. And because [00:37:00] you asked for what you wanted, I think I did a decent job of making sure that.

Todd: I was less reactive than I typically is because, than I typically am. Because, you know, most of the time we’re scanning our environment for threats. And when a threat happens, we get defensive. And you’re basically like, listen, I got, I got nothing left in the tank. So when I get reactive, can you just. Cut me some slack.

Todd: And I was able to do that. It’s just, and if you didn’t do that, I think it would have gone worse. 

Cathy: Yeah. I mean, cause I knew that I w what’s a better word. Cause we kept saying sharp, but what is that word? Like where you’re just kind of teetering on the edge. Sharp 

Todd: is a really good word. 

Cathy: Yeah. Okay. So I just knew that I was talking louder.

Cathy: That I was talking faster and I know Todd gets defensive and he, he becomes kind of childlike where I have to lift him back up and he’ll say, no, you don’t. But I do like, you may not feel like I do, but I have to change my demeanor to make sure you feel better. So basically what I was saying was, but I do.[00:38:00] 

Cathy: Just like you said, can you handle my, because I’m not mean, I’m not yelling at you, I’m not blaming you for things, I’m just a little, I’m not myself, so can you handle that and not make me have to run after you and see if you’re okay? 

Video Clip: Can 

Cathy: you not be one of my kids, where I have to like calm you down and everything?

Cathy: And I know, and Todd may hear that and be like, you don’t ever have to do that, but you, I think sometimes, This is the weird thing. I was thinking about this when we were having this conversation. This gets weird with the gender norms, right? Because we were just talking about dividing them up equally or everyone being competent in all of these areas.

Cathy: And then sometimes there’s just parts of life that, that I, I’m, I’m good at this. I know how to do this. I’m a caregiver by nature. And instead of you trying to be as good as me, Just help me. You know, because I think Todd’s always like, because he sees, he understands invisible labor, he’s trying to be like, let me in on [00:39:00] everything you do, which is, you know, You know, for a lot of people listening, it’s like, that’s so cool.

Cathy: But you want to like, take it over rather than let me be better at it. Just let me be better. And I think that’s a, it’s, I don’t think you’re inherently competitive, but I think you feel like you need to 

Todd: be. Yeah. I feel like that’s the best way I can help out. And what you’re saying is. I’m good at this.

Todd: Get out of my way and support me. Support 

Cathy: me. Yeah, exactly. And, and there will be times when, again, our girls are now almost all adults. So we’re kind of moving out of this phase, but you know, everybody knows this as older kids, but they still need you. Um, and you still have to show up sometimes in these, you know, gender specific ways, you know what I mean?

Cathy: Like they’re calling Todd and saying, Dad, I’m taking a finance class. Will you help me with understanding mortgage rates or whatever? They’re not calling me for that. And they’re calling me when they’re sick or they’re heartbroken. So we’re, we’re still sometimes in those gender specific roles with them.

Cathy: Um, But I, that’s, I, what I want sometimes is rather than to make [00:40:00] Todd feel good about himself, I want him to make me feel good about myself, even if it’s just for a few days. Like, because I don’t need that all the time. I, I, I don’t, you know, I know that I’m most of the time in a real good mood and, you know, thinking about everybody and like, are you okay?

Cathy: Are you okay? And then that is, I think the thing that’s most important in this conversation is, Todd doesn’t have to read my mind. The, the key is the asking for it. Yeah. 

Todd: And it makes my job a lot easier if you ask for what you want. Yes. And there’s times when you do that and there’s times when you don’t and you just want me to, which gets, which is sometimes very frustrating both ways.

Todd: You know, you can’t read my mind either. No. Because it’s probably harder to read my mind because I use less words, whereas you’re more of an external processor, and I probably keep more stuff inside, not like, hiding anything, it’s just, I’m, I’m [00:41:00] cooking up here, and not having conversations about it, and I feel like, you’re, you’re sometimes really, um, You offer what’s going on inside your mind a lot easier than I do, so in a way it’s actually my job’s a little bit easier because you do share more and your ability to read my mind might be harder because sometimes I’m just not that talkative.

Cathy: Well, and that’s the thing. So here’s another deep layer. Okay, I’m going deep. You ready? Um, Something I know about myself, and this could have just been the way I was born, is and in just in my family of origin, but I really cared a lot about how my dad felt. Okay, I cared about how my sister felt and my mom felt, but I was very protective of my dad.

Cathy: Um, and as he got older and, He, he was very confident for many, many years, but then he got sick and then I had to take care of him. And I felt very concerned about how he felt. Okay. And I think that there is, it’s not just my dad. I think my dad is the representation, but I think women have been [00:42:00] socialized to make sure that the men in their lives are okay.

Cathy: Okay, there is a taking care of aspect. In a way that you didn’t feel that way towards your mom? Um, I did feel that way toward my mom, but it was more high intensity, seeing your mom cry versus seeing your dad cry. So the volume’s turned up for your dad? Uh huh. 

Video Clip: Okay. 

Cathy: And also just, it was just the way, My dad’s personality, there was a sense of protection that I had, and it’s nothing he would have known, I don’t think.

Cathy: I mean, he, at the end he did, because we were always like taking care of him and making him hold my hand when he walked upstairs. You know, I was forcing my care on him, um, which he understood. But I just was protective, and a lot of it was unseen. It was an emotional labor of paying attention. Like, do you remember when I’d be like, Todd, you’re not making eye contact with my dad?

Cathy: Do you remember that? Because like, my dad couldn’t speak very well. And sometimes, and again, this is not just Todd. A lot of people did this. When they’d be in a conversation with a group, because my dad wasn’t speaking, they’d stop talking to him. So I would be like, Todd, [00:43:00] make eye contact with my dad.

Cathy: That’s what I mean about being protective. 

Video Clip: Yeah. 

Cathy: And I think that women, even if they don’t want it, like I’m such a feminist and I write about women’s rights and it’s in me where I’m like worried about. So for example, like last week I was talking about a lot of times when something good happens for me, There’s this feeling I get where I need to come to you and be like, are you cool with this?

Cathy: Am I overshadowing you? Am I shining too bright? And you’re always like, no, no, no, no, no. But it’s internal, right? It’s like this feeling of like, I can’t make you feel bad. That was definitely the truth when I was young with my boyfriends. You didn’t, you couldn’t. Don’t shine too bright. Don’t shine too bright because you can’t overshadow me.

Cathy: And you know, had some abusive situations where there was like a, you not only can you not shine so bright, but I’m going to make you feel awful about yourself. So there’s a lot of. Layers in this very basic conversation of why we do what we do. So I [00:44:00] think sometimes with you, even though I know you’re so open minded and you listen, you’re such, you’re such a good listener when it comes to these kinds of things, I still worry about you.

Cathy: Like, how are you feeling about what’s happening right now? How do you feel about what I’m doing? How do you feel about what you’re doing? So if you, that’s in me, and then when you have a strong reaction, okay, so let’s take this to Skylar, 

Video Clip: okay? 

Cathy: You always want to play games with her. Right? Because you, you and Skylar have, you have an awesome relationship with all of our girls, but you and Skylar play a lot.

Video Clip: Yeah. 

Cathy: She’s older. She’s 16. The play has changed. It makes Todd so sad because she doesn’t want to do, which she shouldn’t want to do those things anymore. He’s 16. But sometimes when I leave, And it’s not the three of us, and it’s just Todd and Skylar. Todd’s like, what are we going to do? Where are we going to go?

Cathy: And Skylar gets sad because she feels like she’s disappointing you. 

Todd: Yeah. 

Cathy: And you 

Todd: get this look like, well, and my thing is, this is what’s such an opportunity for she and I to [00:45:00] connect. I understand 

Cathy: that, but you’re thinking about 

Todd: you. And it sucks when mom’s not home. Correct. So I’m trying to like, Support her even more than I ordinarily would.

Todd: So let’s figure out something to do together. Right. 

Cathy: And yet you’re still coming from your own head of like, we should connect. We should do this because I’m thinking this. And she’s looking at you saying, dad, I want time to clean my room. I want, and instead of saying, Hey, how tomorrow. you know, will we see each other?

Cathy: Should we do a dinner? Um, do you just want to go to Dairy Queen? And making it really simple and easy. There’s this feeling that she’s disappointing you and you are just being sweet and cute. You’re not trying to hurt anybody. So 

Todd: in real time, the way this looked was Kathy was in Iowa city this weekend.

Todd: And, um, I don’t know if you were part of the conversation or not, but. I started, I come in, I came in, you come in hot, hot, like, what are we going to do? Let’s go climbing or let’s go take a walk. And she’ll look at me [00:46:00] and what ended up happening on Sunday. Now the masters was on, right? Thank goodness. And I would much as much as I love the masters.

Todd: I, if, if, if Skylar would have said, yes, I’d be like, let’s go climbing. Let’s go take a walk. Let’s go do all these other things. I didn’t say any of that to her because I don’t want her to feel like she has to take care of me. I said something like, what do you want to do today? And she’s like, I want to be in my room all day.

Todd: And I said, I said, okay. And in the back of my mind, I’m like, that sucks. Like I want to hang with this kid and I would much rather be with her. But if she wants to, and that’s the way she, I’m starting to understand her. She’s had a long weekend with friends, which I was going to 

Cathy: say, it’s not like emotionally taxing.

Cathy: Yeah. She’s not shutting down. She’s like, I went out Friday, I went out 

Todd: Saturday. Correct. So I understand that about her now. Um, so I, she came out a few times and just said hi. Um, she took a drive by herself. Meanwhile, I’m sitting there by myself watching the [00:47:00] Masters, which is fine, even though the Masters was kind of a boring Masters because Sheffler just ran away.

Todd: Um, and then nighttime happens and she’s like, I said, what do you want to do for dinner? Cause we did have dinner plates, right? 

Cathy: Which if you remember, I. These are the things I, you brokered that deal. I brokered that deal. Yeah. You 

Todd: brokered that deal because 

Cathy: I was around when Todd’s like, let’s do something.

Cathy: Let’s do something. And she looks at me. Yeah. And I know what she’s experienced. She, Todd. And again, these are not, you know, get out of free jail cards, but Todd’s an extrovert. Skylar’s more like me. She needs downtime. Just like you said, she had school all week. She went out Friday night. She was out Saturday.

Cathy: She was out Saturday night. Sunday, she’s like, I’m doing laundry. I’m staying in my room. I’m reading my book. These are not weird things. These make total sense, but there’s this need to appease you. So I said, Hey, why don’t you guys just have dinner 

Todd: together? Right. And she’s like, Jersey Mike’s. And I’m like, boring.

Todd: I didn’t say that, but in the back of my mind, um, you’re, you weren’t home and you don’t like wings. So [00:48:00] I said, well, how about we do wings? So we did wings. Um, we had Buffalo wild wings. We ate them outside cause it was so nice out. And then I think I said, how about we watch a show? Okay. Like, you know, you know, like a Parks and Rec.

Todd: Give me an inch. I’ll take a foot. You will. Um, so then we watched about her family and then she’s like, how about we watch another one? So I’m like, I’m not wanting to jinx it. I’m like, this is going really well. Yes. Keep it up. I’m able to connect with my 16 year old right now and, and even watching shows is a vehicle of connection.

Todd: Like we’re laughing together and then I said. I got a hunkering for a Mr. Misty Freeze. Is it 

Cathy: hunkering 

Todd: or is it hankering? I’m calling it a hunkering. Okay. Mr. Misty Freeze from Dairy Queen, which is basically a slushie and ice cream blended together and I loved it. And we went out and we did that. And then she wanted to come back and watch another show after that.

Todd: So I just felt like I was playing with house money and it was a wonderful, and, but that would not have happened if I didn’t give her the space [00:49:00] between the time she woke up, which is about nine in the morning till 5 PM. So she could do her laundry and recharge her battery and drive around the neighborhood just by herself.

Todd: If I would have knocking on her door saying, let’s go do something, let’s go do something, the evening that never would have unfolded that way. 

Cathy: Correct. And, and that is, I mean, that’s the key. This is not just for Todd, but for everybody. I understand everybody wants to connect with their kid, especially their teenage kid.

Cathy: And they want, they create a plan and they have an idea, but your plan and idea is based on your needs and your time. And there’s another person involved here. And sometimes, We have to recognize their needs and hopefully find a middle ground. Um, but sometimes we have to allow things to happen on the fly.

Cathy: We’re so, we’re so, as adults, we’re so planned and programmed that we think we have to be like, Okay, we’re going to meet at 2, and then we’re going to have fun, and then we’re going to play a game, versus allow them, if you need her less, and you, and again, this is [00:50:00] weird because I know we’re supposed to be creative and connecting with our kids, but I think connection comes through seeing her.

Cathy: Which is when she’s, if you’re like, Hey, 

Todd: Seeing her, you mean like understanding who she is, what she wants, what motivates her, blah, blah, blah. 

Cathy: Like for example, when you’re gone and she, she and I, and we’re more similar. So this is not, I don’t want to, it’s a little bit apples to oranges, but she’ll come home.

Cathy: I’ll be like, how was your day? Whatever. And I’m like, what are you going to do now? And she’ll kind of tell me and I was like, I’ll be like, sounds great. And then she’ll, she’ll go do it. And then she’ll come downstairs. She’ll be like, should we eat? And I’m like, sounds good. What should we get? And then we’ll get it.

Cathy: And we usually watch her. because Todd makes us eat at the table and Skyler and I both like to watch a show while eating. Todd’s got all these dinner rules. And so when he’s gone, we can like forget those rules. And then we watch a show together and eat. And then she usually goes up to her room, but she comes back and forth because I don’t need anything from her.

Cathy: And so she’s like free. And when you’re free, Then sometimes you feel [00:51:00] like getting something or connecting, but if you feel, like, for example, she can come down and ask me a quick question and go right back up. With you, she may need to stay away because if she comes down and asks you a quick question, you might try and pull.

Todd: I’d say, how about we play a game a little? Correct. 

Cathy: As long as you’re down here. You understand that you’re creating a disconnection by not letting her go. Totally get it. And why it’s apples and oranges is because Todd’s just being himself. He’s not being, he just likes, 

Todd: the way I connect is through interaction, 

Cathy: planned interaction, 

Todd: planned interaction, which sometimes necessitates a board game.

Todd: Watch her to monitor. Does 

Cathy: it necessitate a board game? 

Todd: Um, no, it’s just the way I like, 

Cathy: right? You just like 

Todd: watching a modern family is fine. I’ll take it, but I would much rather do a puzzle together, 

Cathy: right? 

Todd: But she doesn’t want to do a puzzle and she doesn’t want to play a board game. She wants to watch a modern family.

Todd: So, okay, I’m on board. 

Cathy: Right, and the best part of that is that there are times when she wants to play a game or do a puzzle, but it’s not always on your time. Well, and it’s also the grief. [00:52:00] 

Todd: uh, the grieving of the loss because She was your playmate. She was my playmate for the first 13 or 14 years of her life.

Todd: Right. And then she separates, which is totally normal. It would be weird if she wanted to keep doing that stuff with me. Correct. And it sucks. 

Cathy: Yes. And then this is the time when you recreate a new relationship, not based on how it used to be, but what is it you need now? Because the thing about Teenagers is the pulling away is some, there is sometimes pushing and rebelling, but it really is just different needs, different life.

Cathy: They have more people in their world. They don’t need from us the same thing and we have to let them have that. And that’s how we stay connected to them. 

Todd: You want to know another thing that I haven’t really quite grieved the loss of? Oh, what? Um, I would sing her songs every single night for the first few weeks.

Todd: 13 or 14 years of her life. It was a certain, it was like twinkle, twinkle, little star, blah, blah, black sheep, blah, blah, blah. And there was [00:53:00] about seven of them. I would sing before she went to bed while I would scratch her back. And then there was a day where, where she’s like, no, not tonight. And then, then we would fluctuate back and forth sometimes.

Todd: Yes. Sometimes no. And now it never happens, which is. really crappy. I hate that. And it 

Cathy: makes total sense. She’s 16. I know. You shouldn’t be singing. I mean, when I say shouldn’t, I don’t mean you’ll never do it again. And I don’t mean that you’re silly for wanting it. It’s that that’s not. developmentally where she is.

Cathy: She needs to not be getting songs from her dad. They’re in her head. They’re in her body. You guys still have cute commentary. Like, I think the thing we have to say to our kids in all circumstances, not just in the one that Todd’s in, is I love our memories and I’m so excited that you’re growing up. Like, not, oh, you’re growing up, uh, like, because then that’s a weight on them.

Cathy: Yeah. And we may say, no, they get it. They’re just my baby. I love them. Now, here’s what’s crazy. You guys, [00:54:00] I call all my kids my babies. So, you know, when people get really focused on don’t say they’re your baby, I do. But they also don’t know I don’t need anything from them. I’m not saying come be my baby and stay at home.

Cathy: I’m saying you’re my baby and I love that you’re 21 now. I love it. You’re my baby and I love that you’re 16 and 19 and I don’t want you to be any different than where you are. Do I? Sometimes, of course, I do. But I don’t put that on them. That’s the pressure. where they need to disconnect because they feel guilty.

Cathy: Right. And that is a, and especially raising girls. I don’t want them to worry about you. 

Video Clip: Yeah. 

Cathy: I don’t want them to think they need to please you in that old gender specific way. Totally agree. I want them to care for you and, and, and, and love you, but not in that old, societal norm kind of way. Cause I know that a lot of women just do that.

Cathy: Now, like if you were sick or whatever, of course they would. That’s the thing is you’re so tight with the [00:55:00] girls. Well, 

Todd: this might be a dangerous thing to say, but I feel like you brought something up about a half hour ago and you still have this need most of the time to make sure I’m okay. All the time.

Todd: So isn’t that, um, so you’re still working on this too. Of course. Right. 

Cathy: Of course, I, I, I see it, there’s, there’s a difference, there’s a difference between something is happening, it’s like, um, you know, I, I deal with anxiety, I don’t want anxiety, I don’t create the anxiety, I don’t, um, but I, I have tools to deal with the anxiety, I can’t help but feel it.

Cathy: When it comes to needing to making sure you’re okay, I can’t help but have those feelings. They’ve been in me since I was born. Yeah. About if it’s a man, if it’s taking care of the masculine, if it’s who I am as a woman, if it’s my experience with my dad, if it’s old boyfriends. I don’t know, but I can’t help but have the [00:56:00] feeling.

Cathy: The feeling is, is, is hard. The next step, though, is what am I going to do with that feeling? Right. And sometimes I’m in autopilot and I do things like, Are you okay? Are you okay? Yeah. And sometimes I say things like, You need to take care of me now. Yeah. I’ve been taking care of you mentally. Right. all the time.

Cathy: Can you mentally now take care of me? And that is different for me. It’s uncomfortable and it’s a, it’s a, it goes against our grain because I think it goes against your grain too. You’re internalized. You want to come up with things. You want to be in charge. You want to know what, and when I come to you and say, can you clean this office?

Cathy: There’s a lot of reasons why you didn’t and you shouldn’t have to because you don’t, there’s a masculine principle of don’t tell me what to do. 

Video Clip: Women 

Cathy: are nags. Yeah. They need things certain way. I don’t need it this way. Women need it this way. And really women create society so we can be civil. [00:57:00] And then when people do things like people, but when we get into this place where men are like, well, I don’t need it.

Cathy: I’m like, if you lived. among trash with no food and no care, you would not be okay. Women are doing that for you. As are men, too. For, again, depends on the person and their history, right? Because a lot of men have been socialized, growing up with sisters, or being a caregiver, or like, they’re in a divorce situation where they felt they needed to take care of their mom, or a death in the family.

Cathy: They have that. They already know that. But, so I think the most important thing about this conversation that Todd and I are having in real time is this isn’t about be mad that your partner doesn’t know, or be mad that Todd didn’t do it right, or be mad that Kathy was sharp, or be mad that Kathy still has this ingrained thing.

Cathy: Talk about it. Yeah, 

Todd: have a discussion. 

Cathy: Because we will, we’ve been married 22 years and next week we’ll be talking about something else. 

Todd: Yeah, [00:58:00] for sure. 

Cathy: You, you just have to be able to discuss it. 

Todd: Um, I feel like I want to bring where we started this discussion of what is called weaponizing competence and maybe we’ll finish up with a discussion, but I want to play the last piece of weekend update, which is pretty good.

Todd: So 

Video Clip: let’s talk about weaponized competence. Weaponized competence. Yeah. Women, you’re too competent. Why do you know how to do all this stuff? How do you know the word duvet? Who told you that? Yeah. I’ve been living on the same earth as you, girl. Never once heard duvet. And now you’re mad at me because I don’t know how to put it on.

Video Clip: Put what on what? You guys got some good points. Michael Longfellow, everyone. 

Todd: I think that’s really funny. Um, I don’t, it’s so true. The whole duvet thing is interesting because of course I know what it means. It’s, it’s a, it’s a cover for a blanket. Correct. It’s a cover [00:59:00] for a cover of a bed. I never grew up with duvets.

Todd: Like, when did you have a duvet? This is 

Cathy: what’s so funny. Yes, you did. Your mom had a duvet on every bed growing up, sweetie. Yes. Sweetie, growing up, we had blankets. We didn’t have duvets. Okay, so growing up, maybe not. Okay, 

Todd: once I was in your life Yeah, of course, that’s a different I’m talking about growing up.

Todd: Oh, I don’t even know if I did. Yeah, I feel like, when did duvets show up? Yeah, I don’t know. I don’t, I, now I, I don’t even care about the duvet. I like the thing that’s inside the duvet, which is called what? A quilt? What is the thing inside a duvet? No, no, that’s a duvet. Oh, that’s a duvet? 

Cathy: Duvet cover. Got 

Todd: it.

Todd: So a duvet is the fluffy thing. Correct. I love that. And then there’s a duvet cover. Got it. 

Cathy: Yes. And his point is like a cyclical thing because it’s this, let’s take the word weaponized off it. It’s this incompetence that we let maybe, um, I’ll say in this area, men have about, they don’t understand this.

Cathy: They don’t, they don’t get it. So [01:00:00] let’s not talk to them about it. They don’t understand throw pillows. So let’s not talk to them about it. So as they become a partner to somebody, they then are like, these things don’t matter when really they’ve grown up with it. They just didn’t understand it. Like today, Todd and I were making the bed and, uh, 

Todd: By, for the record, I never, you, you were gone and I was city because how many times you made the bed?

Todd: You 

Cathy: did every day. You didn’t make it while I was gone? 

Todd: I did not make it. When I knew you were coming back, I made it because you like it to be made, but I don’t understand making beds. 

Cathy: Really? You don’t feel like starting a night where your bed is 

Todd: My actions speak louder than any words. 

Cathy: Well, and this is really funny because you’re side of the bed every morning.

Cathy: I have to pull the sheet. over because there’s something you do when you sleep where you yank the sheet off and then I have all this slack on my side and it’s okay like I don’t get annoyed about it I tend to make the bed and just pull that sheet over but it’s just funny that you don’t notice that because it’s so not I have [01:01:00] so much of the sheet slack anyway so Todd and I were making the bed together and we were putting the comforter on the top and he put it on a certain way I said we have to turn it and he said why And I said, because the pattern goes this way, and if you don’t have it the other way, then it doesn’t hang right because it’s built for the bed.

Cathy: It’s not a square. It’s a rectangle. And he never knew that. So he would make the bed with the pattern going the wrong way. Because the blanket 

Todd: still works. 

Cathy: Right. But that’s so like, like, why do you have to be so like, Why can’t you just do it the way it’s supposed to 

Todd: be? Why are you the way that you are?

Cathy: Because I don’t really get mad about these things. Mad is a strong word. It’s funny. We make fun of each other. We make fun of each other. So I’m not like, Oh, Todd, he’s so bad. I don’t care. I just told him turn it this way or I turn it. You know what I mean? It matters because it makes [01:02:00] sense to me.

Todd: Why are you the way that you are? Honestly, every time I try to do something fun or exciting, you make it not that way. I hate so much about the things that you choose to be.

Todd: Toby. 

Cathy: Toby. Yeah, there’s too many amazing things about Todd forever for me to ever be annoyed about a blanket going the wrong way. But sometimes I do think to myself, just do it the right way. 

Todd: I think the biggest problem in this thing, in this TikTok thing that’s been going viral and saying it live is weaponized.

Todd: That word is rough. 

Cathy: It’s like 

Todd: toxic masculinity. Well, and people don’t 

Cathy: like that word. I’m 

Todd: fine with toxic masculinity. And different reasons that I’ve shared on this podcast. And if anybody wants to know what they are, just email me. Call me. Explain to you why it’s okay to have that topic. Um, but I digress.

Todd: Yeah. [01:03:00] Weaponized means that they’re, so I am incompetent with how to make the bed. But it’s nothing manipulative at all, and I feel like weaponized and manipulated kind of go hand in hand, and it’s because I don’t really care that much about what the bed looks like and, but the person I love does. So can I instead spend some time thinking about it from another’s point of view?

Todd: And sometimes I do that really well, and sometimes I just don’t care. 

Cathy: Yes. Absolutely. I think that the thing is the caring about the other people or just like learning, like if someone, like if you’re, you know, remember a long time ago in the conversation when I said, just let me be better at things at certain things is instead of fighting, fighting is too strong a word, instead of pushing me on, um, this, this, this, this, this, this, This doesn’t, this shouldn’t matter.

Cathy: Why does this matter to you? Or who really cares? If I [01:04:00] say, Hey, the blanket goes this way. And you just go, Oh, I didn’t know that. Just let me be better at it than you. Just let me teach you something rather than you arguing why you’re right. And because I know with you, like there are things that. And again, this is more gender tolerable is when I’m like, I don’t know how to do this and you show me something, you feel good about it and I learned something.

Cathy: And it’s not that you never do that with me, but there is this sense, Todd, I know we have to finish this up cause it’s probably been two hours, but we went through this with our careers. Like Todd used to, Todd has a completely different career than I do. And then about 20 or no, 15 years ago, 10 years ago, he started getting into my career.

Cathy: where he was like, I’m going to do yoga and I’m going to be a coach and I’m going to be a podcaster and I’m going to, and I was like, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Like this is my world. And he wants to like be better. You know, like he wants to tell me he wants to coach me and he wants to, and I was like, you got to chill.

Cathy: You know what I mean? Like, [01:05:00] that I had to really be open with him about it’s okay that there are some of these things that I didn’t say you can’t do them, but don’t coach me, like, don’t try and be better at this than me, not because I’m too big for it, but because respect that I’ve been doing this a long time and he kept wanting to We had big talks about it.

Cathy: It was rough and now it’s a non issue because we talked about it. Well, 

Todd: and there are times when you’re like, okay, what is it? What did you learn in your coaching program? Uh, Todd, help me out with that or that. And it’s rare, but when you, when you ask for it, I will do something to maybe support you with your, if you’re stuck on something, but yeah, we had to kind of figure that out.

Cathy: Well, I’m interested in everything you’re doing. I love when you tell me about your coaching program or what’s going on in men living. I’m interested and, and I, and I want to hear what you’re doing and I like to give feedback and everything and I don’t need to be better at that than you. I’m not trying to say, well, I know that better.

Cathy: It’s when you come. at me with information [01:06:00] that I’ve known for years that I’ve studied and you’re like, did you know this? And did you know this? And I’m like, I do. And that’s where I feel unseen because you’re, there was, I don’t feel like this happens much anymore. This was more at the beginning, but there’s a sense of Kathy, I’m going to teach you something.

Cathy: And I’m like, don’t you know what I do for a living? Or you’d be like, well, you need to be coached around that. I’m like me who has gone to therapy forever, who has been coached forever. Like, I felt, um, that there was a. Just let me, just let me know these things. 

Todd: And if you dig to the bottom of it is that you felt unseen.

Cathy: Of course. Yeah. I felt like you were coming in, like the thing about careers is usually people, a couple has two different careers, right? So someone’s an expert in this and someone’s an expert in this and you come together. And then when somebody, Especially when it goes, the men, the man coming into the woman’s career, there is, it’s not you can’t do that.

Cathy: It’s that while you’re doing that honor that I’ve been in this career and that I [01:07:00] have a whole history of education and experience that you don’t have. And so when you’re trying to train me or teach me or tell me, maybe just preface it by saying, have you heard this before? Cause I may not have, there’s plenty for me to learn.

Cathy: That’s the thing is like, I was never like. You can’t do this or you shouldn’t do this or you’re not good at this. You’re great at it, but also understand that I am too. And so you’re, you’re, you are coming to appear. Not a, you know, and I would always say, Todd, what if I came into JVI and started selling bearing pads and telling you how to sell bearing pads?

Cathy: And he wouldn’t have the same reaction. He’d be like, I wouldn’t care. I’m like, but you might, if I started telling you how to do your job. 

Todd: Right. 

Cathy: But you always would be like, that wouldn’t matter. 

Todd: And I love my boss. I love my company, but it’s not, uh, I feel like you’re, um, Your attachment, your relationship with what it is that you’ve chosen to do for a living [01:08:00] is deep inside of you.

Todd: Yes. Selling bearing pads? Not. Right. So I, it is, not that I’m right, I could be wrong. Maybe if you did become the best JVI salesperson in the world, I, I would. Be 

Cathy: like, what if they were asking me to be on the committees? Because they’re like, Kathy’s really, she understands this industry. And you’re like, Oh my God, I’ve been in this industry for 30 years.

Cathy: And there was like a total oversight and no one was doing that externally. This was all coming from me internally. I just, I just felt like there were things that I had of my own. And all of a sudden Todd wanted all of them and, you know, even, you know, I, this is a total joke, but even like who he started Men Living With, that was a friend of mine from yoga teacher training.

Cathy: And then Todd’s like, you know, I, I love Frank, but he’s Todd’s friend now, you know, like, but I met him first, you know, so there was a lot of like coming into my world and, and that is okay. As long as that’s being acknowledged. That like, I don’t, I don’t know if a lot of couples deal with this. [01:09:00] This may be a very specific Kathy and Todd thing.

Cathy: Um, but 

Todd: it’s like, well, it’s, if you get down to the very bottom of it is once again, it’s the ability to see the other, correct? So of course other cop couples deal with this, but in a different way. With other stuff. 

Cathy: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. 

Todd: You just want to be seen. 

Cathy: We just want to be seen and like and have a space that we call our own.

Cathy: If it’s Skyler wanting to be in her bedroom and being like this is, I want to feel good in this space and not worry about you. Or me having skills that I want Todd to recognize. Or Todd, to Doing things and trying and speaking up about things and me acknowledging that he’s doing great, you know, like he likes to like he he’s always trying to accommodate and to listen and learn and he gets frustrated when I, um, don’t always notice that and understandably because you’re like, but I totally try to put effort into this, you know, of course.

Cathy: Yeah. And I, and you’re like, I did think about this. And so sometimes when someone’s like, you didn’t even think about [01:10:00] this. You’re like, I did. So we just have to be compassionate toward each other. And um, and just again, for couples who struggle with any of these things we talked about today, you have to just talk about it because it won’t go away.

Cathy: It evolves and changes and becomes new things. Yeah. 

Todd: So. What are we going to call this podcast? 

Cathy: Um, Weaponized, um, Incompetence. That’s 

Todd: what I was thinking. But at the same time, I feel like over the second half was more about other, it was Skylar and Cameron and me wanting to play and. But it’s just a title.

Todd: Yeah. It’s not, I mean, we don’t, we can put that in the, You know, other part. Weaponized in common, even though neither one of us even liked that word. 

Cathy: Well, 

Todd: but that’s all right. I 

Cathy: mean, that’s how we started. It’s not, we’re not endorsing it. Right. We’re not saying we believe in this 

Todd: or 

Cathy: we don’t 

Todd: believe in it, but it is a real thing.

Todd: It’s so funny. I feel like we could do another podcast about it because I think there’s a piece and we’re an [01:11:00] hour and 11 minutes in, but there’s a piece where I feel like there’s Weaponizing competence for me is there’s an intention here, and I’m trying to get out of something, and then there’s just lackadaisical nature of me not wanting to learn how to, um, rap.

Todd: A gift. 

Cathy: Right. So, so, okay. Weaponized incompetence. A woman says to her husband, I’m going to go change and feed the baby. Could you make dinner? And the weaponized incompetence would be the husband may say, Oh, I’m such a bad cook. You’re so much better. You just make it. 

Video Clip: Yeah. 

Cathy: And as, as a result of him complaining, she just says like, forget it.

Cathy: I’ll make it. 

Video Clip: Right. 

Cathy: That is him being like, I’m too lazy or I want to be on the couch. It’s like, don’t play it again because we play it all the time. But in the breakup. Yeah. Vince Vaughn is like. Right. No, no, you, you do that part while I play video games, you’re, you’re better at that. That’s a weaponized incompetence.

Cathy: So that is a real thing. Our conversation though ended up going into a lot of different places. Because I don’t, [01:12:00] we’re not strategically, I’m not like lying or making something up or avoiding something. So you do. Well, I mean, again, maybe we could. Um, maybe, you know, I already gave the PowerPoint example, um, but anyway, it’s sometimes at work we do it, you know, I don’t know how to do that.

Cathy: I don’t, I don’t do that as well as you in school, kids do it. You know, you do, you stand up and give the performance, the presentation, cause I’m afraid in front of groups. So there’s like a sense of putting it on somebody else so you can avoid it. 

Todd: Well, this is going to be a can of worms. Oh my God. We have 

Cathy: got 

Todd: to go.

Todd: I’m so okay when the pizza guy knocks on the door. Sure. Can you knock on the, can you answer when the pizza guy, of course you can. It takes a lot more out of you to answer the pizza guy, right? So you’re not incompetent. It’s just not something that you enjoy doing. And is that the same as my gift wrap example?

Cathy: Well, and again, 90 percent of the time, okay, I’ll do 50, 50 percent of the time, I am opening the door for the person. [01:13:00] I’m at home all the time. Right, but if I’m there. But if I’m there, why am I doing this? Because you don’t care and I do. It takes one 

Todd: unit of my energy versus 10 units of yours. 

Cathy: So I am not saying, I’m not able to, that’s, I’m not shirking away.

Cathy: I did it eight times today. But then when, when Titus, like we, we drive together to pick up food or to pick something up. I can go in, I do it all the time, but if he’s in the car he doesn’t care as much, so you go. 

Todd: Yeah, like why would you go if I can go because it’s fine. 

Cathy: Yeah, just like there are certain things that I do that you don’t want to do and like make the bed.

Todd: Yeah. 

Cathy: And does that mean you can’t make the bed? 

Todd: Right. Um, no, you know how, but you don’t want to. So Bottom line, this is like a totally layered discussion. Completely. Nuanced. Nuanced. Uh, and we went in 85 different directions and we had two other things for the show we didn’t quite get to. That’s fine. Um, maybe we’ll get to it next week, but probably not.

Todd: We rarely ever bring something up that’s been, we’ve been thinking about for a week. It’s usually the day of. Yes. [01:14:00] Or the next day. Um, okay. I’m going to play my music. Uh, we didn’t talk about Team Zen. John Duffy this week. Um, you have a women’s group tomorrow, Uhhuh, we got a busy thing. So busy week 25 bucks.

Todd: Uh, if you wanna connect with Kathy and I in real time on Zoom and have a wonderful cookie, and 

Cathy: you have Duffy on Friday 

Todd: and have Dr. John Duffy on Friday. So, um, everybody just keep trucking, I guess. . 

Round two. Change a little bit. And change a little bit. Pretty pleasant.